Whether or not you’ve heard the term Millennial or Gen Y, you’ve probably heard a few of the stereotypes associated with your generation (those born approximately 1982-1995), such as lazy, entitled or too tech focused.
As Millennials enter the workforce at a rapid pace, it is important that young workers not only recognize that these stereotypes are not necessarily true, but also take steps to showcase how you personally defy these stereotypes.
How do you keep your personal brand clean of negative Millennial stereotypes? Here are four tips:
1. Explain the true product of your times
Like all generations, Millennials are a product of their times. Some of the dominant characteristics of your generation come from the fact that Gen Y grew up, for the most part, in an era of abundance in the United States, which included easy access to information thanks to the Internet and smart phones. For some Gen Ys this has led to a sense of entitlement, but you can demonstrate how abundance and access to information have instead made you optimistic, knowledgeable and an excellent researcher.
2. Take action
One of the best ways to show that you are not lazy, entitled or overly reliant on technology is to work really hard and do a great job. It sounds simple, but employers tell me that they are incredibly impressed by Millennials who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard because they, unfortunately, don’t expect this kind of work ethic from young professionals today.
3. Invest in your future
Another common knock against Millennials is that they live too much in the moment and don’t plan ahead – the YOLO (You Only Live Once) mentality. But I’ve met lots of Gen Ys who are very serious about their futures. To help make this planning easier, I’ve recently partnered with The Hartford on the My Tomorrow campaign, which helps raise awareness among Millennials on the value of investing in their futures. We’ve set up a campaign website (www.TheHartford.com/tomorrow) which has a Real World Roadmap to offer help on “real world” decisions, such as those related to careers, finances and benefits. The goal of the roadmap is to help empower Millennials to take control of their futures by planning ahead.
4. Respect other generations
No matter what your personal brand is, it’s important for you to show respect for the wisdom and life experience of other generations. Sometimes it is important to “listen to your elders,” even if you think your way is better. For instance, sometimes a phone call is more appropriate than a text. Sometimes being thoughtful is better than being fast. Generations can all learn from each other, and the reality is that we’re all on the same team!
As with most stereotypes, the Millennial stereotype contains some truth and some exaggeration. Your personal brand doesn’t have to completely separate you from your generation, but you do need to show employers that you offer unique value so you can achieve your biggest goals. Good luck!
Lindsey Pollak is a next generation career expert and author of Getting from College to Career: Your Essential Guide to Succeeding in the Real World.